Duty Session 430: The Phantom Colosseum

In the effort to clear out the colosseum on the phantom atoll, a party is formed and sets out to explore and fight on the island to try to help clear out the monsters there. Due to several monster nests on the island, it is likely to be a difficult fight ahead.

Difficulty:    Moderate
Rec. Party:    4+
Rewards:       4
World Rewards: Victories bring the colosseum one step closer to being cleared of its Sahuagin 'owners' and towards falling into Adventurer hands.

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A plank of wood and two large log hastily shoved into the ground: this is the port our heroes have gathered at, ready to be taken to the Atoll. The captain of the boat is waiting there, chatting with Uta, as they wait for the rest of the party and prepare for their adventurous journey.
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Haru is not one to sit idle! Kidding, he would just as likely be seen taking a nap on the beach. Today is not a day for napping, however! He has his earth summon, Terra, out, playing some version of 'Eye of the Tiger' with her sonic drills as he hypes himself up on the beach. Cardio! Cardio that is frequently interupted when he finds a seashell or two to collect. Look, accessory crafter life involves keeping an eye out for a lot of small things like gems, shells, crystals, and rare metals.
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    Miyako is sitting nearby, waiting casually - having arrived only a few minutes after Uta. Right now she's got her guitar out, and plays 'Eye of the Tiger' along with Haru's summons. (What? It's a great song!)

    Her only comment on the rickiteyness of the dock was "... eh, I've seen worse." She probably has, too.
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If, when you woke up late in the morning light and the day had just begun, you opened up your eyes and thought 'Oh what a morning, It's not a day for work, it's a day for catching tan, just lying on the beach and having fun.', she's going to snatch you.

All that she wants is another duty, done by tomorrow, hoy, all that she wants is another duty.


Luckily, Uta had no need to prod anyone today! Everyone was prompt and ready, and the voyage.

Haru is doing cardio. And his summon is playing compelling training montage soundtracks. It's the eye of the tiger, it's the drill of the fight! Rising up to the chances of arravial. Or something. Miyako accompanies. There's music. Everything is good with the world.

"Hey, folks! We all here? We ready? It's time to set sail for the Phantom Atoll! All aboard!", she calls. "I somehow have a feeling that this is going to be a wonderful musical journey!"

And as if on cue... after some unremarkableness, there is sudden, beautiful singing. On a sandbar nearby, the song of several sirens singing in chorus can be heard, attempting to draw in the party! While in theory they could continue to just move past without too much worries, it becomes much more difficult when the young adventurer who had been helming the boat suddenly finds themselves drawn in! The party will have to deal with these sirens, and fast, or they'll be forced to swim to the Phantom Atoll instead of traveling by boat!
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To say that Haru is rocking out is an understatement, especially when there is musical accompaniment. There is a lot of singing from the Artificer, with some of the words even being correct, "Cuz its an eye of the tiger and its looking to fight. Cuz it did something bad to our rivals. Come to think of it it doesn't make that much sense. But it just helped me finnnnnnnd, a pretty sea shell." No, those are not the words. Haru ad libbed most of it as he holds up a seashell. With that, he hooks a hand onto the massive Earth elemental that would serve well as some Magitek Ride armor made of stone and hops on over to the dock. "Farewell, Terra!" Dismissed! The elemental sinks into the sand as if to say 'Ill be downstairs playing video games'. Thunk thunk thunk.

"I'm on a boat," Haru says, promptly being on a boat, "I'm on a boat and, we're moving fast and, we are going to hit that Atoll and call it Shazam." Don't call it Shazam. Lonely Island would not approve.

With all the music going on, Haru is all about dancing to it. True, he is trying to think of a better way to go about it, but at its core the Siren's Song is the heart of a lot of enchantment. It is better to really listen to it. Odysseus did that, right? In the end, its a dancing fool on the boat, but he looks happy. Staring up a new dance crave: The Noodle.
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    Miyako puts away her guitar as she boards the boat - thank heaven for Inventory - and pauses to speak to the Captain briefly. "Need any extra hands on anything, skipper?" she asks, and goes where she's sent. (Sailing is one of those things she's just done a -lot- of, and it shows. She never has to ask 'how do I', or 'what's a tallywhacker', or any of those clueless-newbie questions. She just goes about and does sailor stuff.

    Eventually, however, that whisper of song she's been humming along with grows louder, and she starts tapping her foot to it. So do some of the sailors around her. A minute later she catches herself, blinking, and reaches over to the sailor next to her. "Hey! Jerrod! Man said heave!" But the sailor's entranced. So are others. This is Not Good.

    Think Fast, Spriggan! And no, The Mermaid is not a good song for this, that ship sank in the end and everybody died. Maybe - oh, yes. THAT one. And then her guitar is out and it's time to SING!

        "For we are crossing the water, our whole life through
        We are making a passage that is straight and true
        Ev'ry heart is a vessel, every dream is a light
        Shining through the darkness of the blackest night!"

    She dang near shouts it out, trying to drown out the sirens' call with volume and stridency.

        "For there is no shallow water, and naught but us to keep
        Us safely from the dangers, and the devils of the deep
        But with rising winds before us, we search forevermore
        To find some peaceful harbor on that far off shore!"

    And back into that chorus again. It's one of those proud, defiant, rise up and LIVE type songs, like some of the crazily-lively gospel tunes, and her voice lends it an amazing brightness.

    (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzliEMdb4iI if you want to hear it.)
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What videogames would Terra be playing? Lode Runner? Boulder Dash? Who knows.

The song entrances the sailors, and creates a new dance craze. The Noodle. Remember, kids, you saw it here first.

Miyako is the quickest to take action, so Uta joins in, and harmonizes with her. Prop up the song, make it stronger, make it so it disrupts the Sirens' influence and overpowers it, bringing the sailors back to attention.

Support life.

The combined song and dance number (The Noodle -- Remember, kids, you saw it here first) is successful in countering the Sirens' mind-warping, and the party eventually makes land on the Phantom Atoll, the captain of the ship they came in turning around to return back to the relative safety of the base camp. Making their way towards the colosseum, they find a sprawling town around the main entrance of the colosseum that is almost... /too/ quiet. Not even the sounds of native wildlife are audible. Seeing no other obvious entrance into the colosseum short of swimming, however, the party opts to continue through the town. About halfway through the town, the owners of the island make themselves known, as an ambush is sprung! From all sides, Sahuagin appear and begin to attack the party with spears and magic! There's enough that the party's best option is to break through the ring surrounding them and run for a more strategic area to fight them off, or just make a break for the massive bridge that leads to the Colosseum entrance.
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    Miyako keeps up her concert until the ship reaches land once again, only putting her guitar away once the ship is anchored. She seems to know quite the wealth of sea songs, some of which Uta might well recognize from the compilation Miyako gave her at Christmas.

    Eventually, however, it's time for the music to quiet for a bit, as the party goes ashore and starts to keep an eye out for piratical zombie sea monster coconut trees and other such wonderful things one finds on tropical islands.

    Like, say, a guard force of Sahuagin. "Hello, boys!" she says, almost laughing as she dances between their attacks, taking only the tiniest of wounds as she severs limbs with sweeping gestures of her war-fans. (Daiyu would probably call her an amateur. Anyone else would say it looks almost elegant.)
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It is a good ole time on the ship in the face of Siren danger. Hands up. Noodle arms wave. Wave wave wave. You wave to the side side side. Then the next side side side. You wave back. Handstand. Wave upside down. Wave upside down. Wave on the ground. Do the Noodle. Do the Noodle.

The song always ends too early. A deep breath and an exhale. "You know, the more time I spend traveling, the more I feel how deeply connected Song is with Enchantment," the Artificer says, dusting himself off. It was a fun trip, thats for sure. Mind candy. "Besides resonation, there is this sort of magical quality to it," he continues, hands on the railing, "must study it more." When he isn't being a silly Summoner, he is pretty serious! Look at his hair, its white. White-haired human, always serious, its a requirement.

The Artificer hops off of the boat and makes his way with the group to the base camp and towards the colosseum. "This town is too quiet," he says with his best Shirin impersonation. A Japanese man making a Western accent. He even has his hands at his hips even though there is no pistol there. There is a tumbleweed, even though those are arid native plants, that makes its way across the street. It was a distraction! Never trust a tumbleweed! It was even made of seeweed, that should have been the first clue.

"Rude," Haru observes, drawing up his orb in one hand as artificed crystals take to small hex-like shields of magic to block weaker attacks and slow down others that pass through it. Debuffs, not defense buffs! Enchanter Liffffeee! Haru puts a flare to it like he is shooting pistols with his hand to throw the magical shields up. Pew pew pew. Pew pew break through!
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Uta seems to, indeed, remember those songs from her present! When a song that was in her book comes up, one can tell, because the harmony she provides is less improvised, more confident. She must have been reading that book. Multiple times.

"I couldn't help but notice your sailing skills," Uta remarks at Miyako as the two, having disembarked the ship, look around for piratical zombie sea monster coconut trees. There's always some. "Have you built up your sailing skills in game? Or do they stem from your life outside ETO?"

"Song runs deeper than any of us thinks," Uta remarks. Serious, yet in wonder. "It is now my mission to learn more about this." She turns to Haru, "Say, are you trained in it? If not, should you decide you want to learn, at some point, hit me up. I'll be glad to offer lessons-"

The Sahuagin attack! Spears! Magic! The party responds, and between Miyako's war-fans, Haru's pew-pew debuff crystals, and Uta getting punched and kicked until she's a glowing mess of red, the whole gang is dispatched.

Silence. A tumbleseaweed rolls by.

A bubble of lightning shimmers around Uta, and crackles into nothing.

The party finds themselves into the halls of the Colosseum. While you would think that it would be relatively simple to get around, there's a lot of damage to the building, making traveling through the Colosseum more like a crazy puzzle with angry fishmen around every bend. After what felt like hours of wandering (It was more like maybe ten minutes but it all looked the same), they find their way into a room with stairs downwards into strangely fresh water. The walls around are inscribed with runes and etched with intricate designs all the way to the bottom of the stairway. The pathway is entirely submerged and the party finds itself able to breathe water as it explores, though the party still has to swim. Rather suddenly, a current begins to drag the party through the corridors wildly. They're going to have to try to swim to get back into the corridors of the Colosseum, as their oxygen meter begins to rapidly deplete!
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To the earlier question Uta posed about Song, Haru replies, "I am not. Though I will aspire to! In the meantime I will need crack consultation from the great songweavers of the land to help me unravel the mysteries of greater Enchantment. I will unlock them, if my main is not Enchanter, Artificer of legend!" He is some of those things. Does not lack enthusiasm today!

There is a wide eye (singular, thanks to the monocle) look from Haru as he takes in the grandier of the colosseum. Sure, it has seen better days. That stone right there looks like it is made of powder and more than one pathway has unpaved stones. It still means someone created this and it is the small wonders that makes Haru's mind go tick tock. Tick tock just like his feet go clip clop down the stairs. A hand runs against the runes as if to trace them. "Interesting," he says, an ungloved hand pressing to one of them to feel its resonance. Oh thats a strong one. A rumbling. No, thats the rushing of water that Haru slowly turns to notice. "Well sh..." Fwoosh! Water!

The Wave Artes user starts to move his hand in quick somatic motions in order to conjure up some Bubbles to breathe with for the party. Once up, he switches the Water magic to try to keep the current from slamming them around like pinballs, to the limited effect of needing to refresh popped Bubbles before getting any headway. Enchanter Li-- pop.
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    "I've been - to borrow a phrase - 'messing about with boats' since I was too small to walk," Miyako assures Uta. "Family used to race this little yacht out on the lakes, and moved on from there."
         She nods as Uta replies to Haru's commont on Song and Enchantment. "Yeah, I've seen some of it too, I've gotten... curious. There's something seriously... interesting... about it all. Like the Landers having apparently never written any of their own songs. That's a fecking travesty, that it is." As the trio delve into the ruines, she has a song of her own, softer and quieter than the earlier.
        "There stands a misty mountain, in the soft and gentle rain
        Against the flight of endless time, forever to remain
        Through all the passing seasons, through every night and day
        I can see that misty mountain, and I hear the spirit say

        Oh, brother don't you weep, oh, brother don't you weep no more
        Sun's gonna shine on a golden shore, oh, brother don't you weep
        Oh, sister don't you weep, oh, sister don't you weep no more
        Sun's gonna shine on a golden shore, oh, sister don't you weep."

    Miyako smiles, singing quietly to herself as the trio leave the sahuagin guards and their zombie pirate sea monster coconut crab trees behind, along with their sea-tumbleweeds, and make their way further into the ruins. Accompanied by another of her songs.

        "up the rocky roads of trouble, and down the twisted paths of pain,
        Sometimes it is a struggle, sometimes we come up lame,
        But with children on our shoulders, we face another day
        And through their shining eyes of innocence, I can hear the children say..."

    And then there are walls covered in runes! Nifty! She breaks off her song to read them. "I can hear the children say, all praise to the highest who sleeps in the deeps? Wait, that's not right...." She pauses and leans in to examine the runes more closely... and overbalances on the stairs, tumbling down and into the water!

    "Blbdlllpllbl!" she shouts from under the flooded stairwell. Then she breaks the surface with a laugh and a splash, water streaming down her long dark hair. "Come on in! The water's fine!"

    And so it's time for the party to swim for it! Down, down, down the submerged tunnel, strangely enough having no trouble breathing... for now, at least. Miyako keeps grumbling about not being able to sketch any of the rune-carvines on the walls they pass, since her paper and pen would get water-logged the moment she took them out of inventory.

    The Swimming Spriggan is stopped in mid-whinge by a sudden gust of water (wave? tide?) that bashes her against a pillar. She abandons her complaint in favor of righting herself, but by the time she's gotten her balance back the current has swept the party away! Oh no!

    Miyako once tried one of those water-treadmills, where they give you a constant current to swim against. This is exactly what it feels like for her, trying to swim back into the Colliseum corridor. She's getting nowhere. She swiftly realizes this, seeing Uta and Haru in the same pickle, and lets the current take her for a bit, riding the waves in a way a California surfer would not in the slightest way envy her for.
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"The local lore has a thing called 'Prelude to Song.' A mysterious event in the far, far past, a great light across the land, said to be the origin of the 42 Songs." She turns to alternately look at Miyako and Haru. "There's an interesting tidbit about this... I've been told by gamers that the time ratio of ETO, before the Apocalypse, used to be 50:1. Well, if you use this timescale to map it to real world events, it corresponds to a time point roughly around the Flash of Death." She's dead serious about this. "Since I've discovered this, I've been researching it." She sighs. "Sadly, being an event so far in the past, there's practically nothing to go on..." Her look intense, she makes eye contact with both, in turn. "If you find anything about it, please let me know?"

"Amazing, isn't it?" Uta smiles, hands on her hips, looking at what Haru is looking as he inspects the coliseum. "The way I have it reckoned, Fukasa Yuri is looking into reclaiming this Colosseum for the Adventurers. Make it into an arena." She looks up at the walls, one hand on her hip, the other rubbing her chin. "With the War of Dragons going on, having one more place to train would be a boon. We cannot enhance our abilities enough..."

Miyako invitation to join her- well, Uta has no choice. She does swim as quickly as she can, but the current is too strong, too strong. Just like Miyako, she is swept away, into the next room...

The current sweeps the party away, eventually slamming them against the deck of a massive sunken ship. Looking at their oxygen bars and how far they are from the Colosseum, at this point, the only option the party has is to lick their wounds and attempt bars and how far they are from the Colosseum, at this point, the only option the party has is to lick their wounds and attempt to get out of here with their lives and swim desperately to find the closest area where they can find air. Possibly a nearby cave, or even the boat itself could grant them the small boost to their breath bar that could let them get out of here and back to their boat.
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Song Lore. Some of the best lore if not -the- best lore. So much good lore around. Currently Haru is focused on Divine Beast lore due to a bit of a fascination with birds of fire as of late. "It'd make a good arena," the Artificer considers for the construction. Really epic setting. Cheering crowds. Elysium itself would be proud. "Might help revitalize the dueling scene, yeah?" he says optimistically as the power gap between Yamato and the Palace Lands sometimes seems like a wide gulf.

"Ooh," glubs Haru when thinking about the time ratio. That would make a lot of sense. Speaking of time, they dont have tons of it. The re-bubble magic isn't going to keep the air up indefinately. It will only delay the eventual drowning situation. There is a brief pause about the Flash of Death, but if they dont fix the current situation the flash of death is going to be their own. He isn't a /bad/ swimming, in fact he very much has a swimmers build and very little in the way of heavy clothing weighing him down. However he has never been known for having fonts of luck, swimming to dead ends more than once. Rebubble time!
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    "I don't think you'd mentioned this 'Prelude to Song' before," Miyako finds a moment to ask Uta about as they meander along. "And the timing is definitely curious. I'd like to take a look at what you've found so far, if I could?"

    Back in the present, the Spriggan swims for her life! Or at least for that most precious of things to all non-undine divers, a breath of fresh air! That cave is under a tall seamount, it might just go up high enough.... She waves to Uta and Haru, and gestures towards it. Hopeful. Optimistic. ... Praying and mildly panicking, inside.

    Caves underwater are almost always something's lair. It could have been a small shark. Or an Undine who preferred the water. Or more Sahuagin. But no. It's LUNCH.
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Uta herself is a victim of the currents. Not enough oxygen. Swimming, thinking is hard. She barely manages to keep up with the rest of the gang. Almost drifting away, almost lost...

No! Miyako is pointing to a cave! Perhaps...

Miyako's hunch turns out to be correct: what at first seems like a dead end eventually results in an area with air and a passageway forward. There is a problem, though. There is some sort of massive cave devil in the cave with the party. A massive Kenyan Mangrove Crab. It is staring at the party. And slowly approaching. It should be easily killed with a skilled stab or cut to the right place, but the party will have to remember back to their CQC training...
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    Air! Air! My Kingdom for a breath of air! ... Wait, no, I don't have one of those, do I? No, no, oh wait, here's some. Miyako surfaces in the cave, taking a deep, gasping breath, shaking her head to get some of the water out of her hair. The Spriggan treads water for a minute, before making for what passes for a shoreline in the cave.

    Click. Clack. Click. Skitter. Clack.

    Miyako stands, at last, and looks up towards the source of the sound. "Welp," she says, grinning as she draws her war-fans.

    The Spriggan laughs as she engages the crab. Her war-fans striking at the joints, opening to slash at the gaps, closing with a snap audible even underwater to bash at the harder armor over those areas. Bouncing around like a madwoman, as if she hadn't just been swimming all-out for her life. It's One Of Those Days.

    Time to make the sushi.
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This Artificer is all washed up. The first thing he does when he gets to fresh air, besides gulp it down like a smoothie during a hot summer day, is shake his head free of the water. Haru's monocle stays curiously on despite the dog-water-shake. "Alright, when things get tough, its time to get serious," Haru says. Its a little difficult to take serious-LY when he is dripping wet like that. Time for a summoning montage. Big sparks! Large hand motions. A chant! "Terra. Vocare. Terebro. Numerus. Terebrare. Hostis." The Wave Arte comes to life as Terra is interupted from her basement video game time with a whirrling growl of disapproval.

Rocks of the cavern give way to the Earth Summon, busting into the scene like a Kool Aid man ready to add some sick beats to the boss fight. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIr4C5Ztlcg for Terra's Drillbeat). One minor catch.

There isn't enough room for a summon of Terra's size. She is stick. A shift and she is a little more dislodged. Nope. More stuck. "Oh, you sweet, summer child," Haru says in disbelief as he at least stands behind her to get good cover. If the crab is silly enough to get close, it'll get a good drilling. Zone control, maybe? Yes. Zone control. Good job Terra, you are doing good sweetie!
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Cough. Sputter. Sputter. Cough. *Gachk*. Sputter.



Uta has seen better days. Rigth now she's lying on the rocks, drenched, trying to reactivate her respiratory tract.

She takes a good look at the crab. That face just says 'nope nope nope'. She turns her head to swim back-

And then remembers the lack of oxygen.

With a groan, she pushes herself to stand, legs wobbling, and launches into the fray with a scream, staff brandished and ready to hit-

...to be fair, Uta gets far more blows than she delivers, as proven by the count of red gashes and the relative decrease speed of HP bars.

Miyako has better luck with her war fans, and Haru-- zone control! Good job, Terra.

The HP bar of the crab is depleted, the boss shatters, and drops with bits of shell and attached meat are dropped.

Uta just slumps to sit on the ground, panting, her HP solidly in the red, the same color that is flashing all over her, in the shape of wounds. "...I...I didn't think we'd have made it..."
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    Miyako looks at the wreckage that is all that is left of the crab, and sighs, heavily. She sinks to her knees, disappointed /most/ deeply.

    "The sushi... the sushi... why is the sushi gone?" she asks, despairingly, as the last of the meat decays into ash and nothingness.

    She slumps against Uta, shoulder to shoulder, eyes drifting briefly shut. SprigganPile time. "I want a -word- with the props director on this one," she mutters. "My sushi...."
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"With this dream team," Haru asks as he leans on a badly injured Terra, "never a doubt." Promptly Terra unsummons, causing Haru to lean into a less solid pile of rocks and falling into it. His previously half damaged health bar dips into the final red zone after that. Terra's way of saying 'Health is a shared resource' before going back to her games.

The white haired human pushes rock after rock off of him until he is free once more. Noodle arms, getting the work done. "This worked out rather nicely though. Seashells. Shanties. Crab shells. I can make some nice accessories from this," he says, one of his primary reasons for going to new locations and finding new treasures. A finger is pressed to the silver metal lining his purple lens'd monocle. White lines form in semicircles on the glass of the relic. Inspecting. Appraising. "... or not. Water accessories!" Yes, thats the ticket. Font of optimism dont dry up yet!